The Taste of Magic

For him, magic was comfort. For her, it was mystery. Now it is tainted and all they have is each other. Bill/Fleur oneshot

Apparently, I'm obsessed with the Weasleys. Who knew?

Disclaimer: Ain't mine.

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"Love is not consolation. It is light."

Friedrich Nietzsche

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Egypt was either a bright so bright that it threatened to sear his eyes or shadows so deep that they seemed tangible things—and sometimes were. In the land of the oldest disciplined magic in the world (the first wizards were Egyptian priests), everything was extremes. Magic that old fell into grooves, currents easily mapped, and right and wrong were easy to differentiate and choose between. Magic was easy like breathing, hanging in the air, just waiting to be claimed. It had a tang of spices and a thickness born of heat, and it flowed in the River, regulating its rise and fall. Curses were both brittle and heavy with ancient weight, and breaking them was a matter of applying the right pressure at the right places. It was not the magic he'd grown up with, but it was comfortingly familiar, as though it had been waiting for him for millennia.

He would sit in the cool of the blue-black shadows that lingered just beyond the light that fell like a shadow itself through the doorways to ancient temples and tombs and read newspapers from home by lumos. The news was growing darker, and the letters from Dad and little Ron were disturbing, though Mum was forcibly cheerful, Charlie was oblivious to all but his dragons, Percy was pompously competent, and the twins were the twins. He received a few chilling letters from Ginny, his baby, during her first year and put two and two together. And though he might not have been old enough to really know what was happening last time around, he remembered that Mum cried a lot and Dad's eyes were always worried and he himself was not allowed to look at the newspapers and sometimes family members didn't show up at Christmas or weddings anymore. And now he had a sinking feeling in his stomach, a sensation of perpetually falling, and he knew that it was beginning again.

And though it all seemed far away—rainy, muddy England had nothing to do with gritty sand that filled every corner and the brightness of a noon sky that drained the whole world of color—he knew that it would affect him. If his family was in danger, he would have to go back because of who he was. And he knew that magic and choices were not so easy there; everything was murkier, full of greys and hard decisions and borderlines between dark and light. That magic at home was cooler, more liquid, and tasted like rainwater and moss; it had hidden corners and twists and turns that obscured paths that should be straight shot. It was reluctant to serve and had to be coaxed forth, a fickle art.

But darkness of any kind had to be fought—this he knew from blood and Mum's lectures and Dad's subtle pressures and from Egypt itself—and with whatever magic or weapon possible, no matter how shady or shaded by nuance.

He packed his bags quickly, and before Disapparating, he sucked in lungfulls of Egyptian air with its magic and its spices and its river-stench. He would miss it.

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Beauxbatons was so different from home. At home, Maman and Grand-mère's charms hung over everything, filling rooms like an expensive perfume, leaving headaches behind with those it did not devour. Beyond all of that, she could barely sense the magic, and there was no chance that she would break the laws and use underage magic because it all seemed so far away.

But at school, she was assaulted by it, its silky aloofness slipping around her like a cat undulating itself around someone's leg. It reminded her of a Bordeaux wine, robust and exploding in her mouth and sending unfamiliar warmth through her veins. It shimmered beyond the edge of sight like gold. She was fascinated by the way she could feel it slide from her tongue when she said the words, down to her fingers, and then through her wand before bursting from its tip to subtly change the world.

She was Madam Maxime's prize student, though she maintained her popularity because of her grace and beauty and easy way of taking charge. It wasn't that she so much enjoyed learning, and she would much rather gossip than study. But she never lost her awe at magic surging through her, never lost her delight in discovering a new spell or charm, one that made the magic around her shift, deepen, lighten, ripple, hum or whistle or ring, even just a little. In short, magic never lost its magic.

Hogwarts scared her. The magic was different—not golden, but perhaps stone grey, and it seemed older. And there was something gathering there, like storm clouds, so that even when the sun was shining—an occurrence so rare that she learned not to take it for granted—the whole world seemed grey and dreary and lying under a heavy weight.

Each spell was harder, as though the magic was reluctant to bend to her will, as though it was being pulled in another direction by a magnet. The competition that she had thought she would so effortlessly win (magic came so easily to her) turned against her, and then all of a sudden it didn't seem so important anymore.

Back in France, her training took on a new desperation: she never wanted to feel the way Harry Potter's eyes looked, never wanted to see Gabrielle lying as still as Cedric Diggory.

She lost all pleasure in the magic and it became about furious preparation. Something was coming, and there was no time to revel in the sensations of enchantment. Something was coming, and she wanted to be ready.

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He is strong and handsome despite the scars and very, very brave. She is bright and quick even now and very, very beautiful. Others say that they are a perfect couple, meant for each other—perfect on their own and even more perfect together. But they don't listen; no, they simply do not hear.

Perfection has ceased to matter. All that matters is clinging together, finding strength from one another because the world has grown dark almost beyond bearing. Everything is different; everything is tainted.

There is no comfort now in magic, no pleasure in it. Each spell cast is a weariness, a great strain, created only out of necessity to protect that which they refuse to lose. After spinning a charm, breaking a curse, they are exhausted and slightly ill. Magic has a coppery, metallic tang like blood with a smell of rot behind it. It seems that the world is drowning in blood and the eerie green of Dark Marks and blankets of storm clouds. Life is cold and hard and a necessity, a waking up each morning to find that life is a nightmare and they must rise to face it.

Magic has lost its familiarity for him, its wild enchantment for her. But perhaps they have found something better. To her, he tastes like spices and smells like musty temples. To him, she is heady as wine and smooth as liquid gold. And their only pleasure, only strength, only life, is falling into each others arms at the end of each harrowing day, seeking refuge and sensation and comfort and life and love.

And one day the skies will clear and the magic will run pure again and they will find the world easier and more wondrous to live in. But even when all that returns, it will never be able to compare with the taste of magic on each other's lips.

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I'm really proud of this one, so please review!